The Jonah Goldberg v Juan Cole dispute (see below) is beginning to build into a mini-Super Bowl. My money's defnitely on Goldberg. James Wolcott has weighed in on the Prof's side, naturally enough. His reward is a firm kick in the ribs from JG:

From what I've been able to tell, Wolcott's simply the middle-brow wordsmith Vanity Fair signed on to make sunbathing second wives in the Hamptons feel like they're intellectuals while they get their pedicures.

Ouch. I loved Goldberg's view of Cole as a modern-day version of rose-tinted Sovietologist Jerry Hough. Cue an anecdote told by the great Robert Conquest:

I remember at Columbia University more than twenty years ago Stephen Cohen saying to me, "There's someone here who thinks Stalin only killed ten thousand people." "No there isn't," I said confidently. Steve took me over and said, "Jerry, how many people did Stalin kill?" "Ten thousand or so."

How did the campus theorists get it so wrong? Richard Pipes, who saw the Sovietologists up close, has this to say in his memoirs, Vixi, the wisest book I've read in many a year:

Intellectuals tend to be captivated by words, because words are their currency. Among my papers I found a note I had jotted down in the 1970s at some conference: "To deal with [Soviet] Russia you must have a simple mind." I meant by this that the USSR was a crude system, based on force and the exploitation of fear yet camouflaged with noble ideas: these confused subtle intelligences but not the people living in the rough and tumble of the real, physical world.
|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/02/bruising-jonah-goldberg-v-juan-cole.html|||2/06/2005 04:46:00 pm|||||||||